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A.G. Herring secures up to $12 million to clean up Buchanan County

Jon C. Hancock | Bloomberg | Getty Images The headquarters of Alpha Natural Resources Inc. stands in Abingdon, Virginia.
Jon C. Hancock | Bloomberg | Getty Images The headquarters of Alpha Natural Resources Inc. stands in Abingdon, Virginia. (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - Taxpayers will not have to pay for clean up efforts at the former Twin Star mine complex.

Friday, Attorney General Mark Herring announced Alpha Natural Resources will spend up to $12 million on environmental and water quality improvements.

"Under this agreement, Alpha will take responsibility for cleaning up its operation, and will leave the people of Southwest Virginia with a cleaner, potentially useful property instead of a bill for the cleanup," said Attorney General Herring.

Read the full release below.

RICHMOND - Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced that his office has secured financial commitments of up to $12 million from Alpha Natural Resources for cleanup and reclamation of the former Twin Star mine in Buchanan County. The cleanup funds, which were secured as part of the federal bankruptcy proceedings of Alpha Natural Resources, will provide significant water quality and environmental benefits to Buchanan County and prevent taxpayers from having to fund cleanup, closure, and water quality improvement efforts at the former mine site. The Twin Star complex is the only Virginia mine still owned by Alpha, after the company sold off its other Virginia mines.

"A process like this is never easy, especially for the workers, families and communities affected by a bankruptcy," said Attorney General Herring. "Under this agreement, Alpha will take responsibility for cleaning up its operation, and will leave the people of Southwest Virginia with a cleaner, potentially useful property instead of a bill for the cleanup."

During Alpha's bankruptcy proceedings, it was possible that the company would have avoided any reclamation and remediation responsibilities, leaving the entire cleanup obligation to taxpayers. Instead, Attorney General Herring and his team have secured up to $12 million to perform necessary environmental and water quality work over the coming years, with the majority of the work being completed by 2020. Within the next 90 days, the company will post $9 million in bonds to ensure that work will be done.

In 2015, Attorney General Herring helped broker a compromise that resulted in tens of millions of dollars in unpaid royalties from coal bed methane sales finally going to landowners

. The long-overdue distribution was forced by legislation that represented the culmination of unprecedented cooperation and complex negotiations between landowners, energy companies, the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, the Virginia Oil and Gas Board, legislators including Del. Kilgore, and the Office of Attorney General Herring.